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Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin

First, I have thoroughly read this article. Second, I have, as recently as December 31, 2014 completed a cover-to-cover reading of the Bible. It is not my first reading. Kurt Eichenwald, the author of the above named article, states the purpose behind the article. He claims,
Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning is not intended to advance a particular theology or debate the existence of God. Rather, it is designed to shine a light on a book that has been abused by people who claim to revere it but don’t read it, in the process creating misery for others.

Then, after a dredging of the dregs on modern Bible criticism he concludes, 

So why study the Bible at all? Since it’s loaded with contradictions and translation errors and wasn’t written by witnesses and includes words added by unknown scribes to inject Church orthodoxy, should it just be abandoned?

No. This examination is not an attack on the Bible or Christianity. Instead, Christians seeking greater understanding of their religion should view it as an attempt to save the Bible from the ignorance, hatred and bias that has been heaped upon it. If Christians truly want to treat the New Testament as the foundation of the religion, they have to know it.


There is nothing in the content of the article by Kurt Eichenwald which is new to me, to the saints in Christ in general or to those other theologians and their contributions to the study of the biblical text which he purports to lay out but whose contributions are not a part of the bias of this article.
What is my purpose for this brief comment? It is neither to bash Eichenwald nor to refute every point in his article. Rather, my aim is to address just one point as an example which may serve to enlighten those saints in Christ who are impressed or shocked by the content of this article by Eichenwald.
There is one thing which Eichenwald does right. He begins with the matter of the scriptures themselves. I believe there is a consistent telltale characteristic when a message is being parroted. This telltale characteristic is evident in his opening volley that no one, not television preachers, evangelical politicians, the pope, Kurt Eichenwald or I (gt) who has read the Bible. Yes. I understand this is for dramatic emphasis by casting a dismissive shot at the authenticity of the Bible as he states:
At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.


Eichenwald attempts to discredit and dismiss the authenticity of the Bible on three different levels: 1) bad translations, 2) bad translations of translations, and 3) the Greek koine language.
Eichenwald may be aware about koine Greek, but if so he reveals a markedly, significant ignorance about koine Greek. Years ago the very same language of the Bible manuscripts which stumped Bible scholars for many years was finally cleared up when it was discovered that the Bible was not written in classical Greek but it was written in koine; the common language of ordinary Greek people. Yet, Eichenwald states “not all of the amateur copyists spoke the language or were even fully literate,” and _ did not understand the words?
Then, after stating that the ancient manuscripts parchments crumbled and primitive ink faded away he cheerily touts the discoveries in the last 100 years of manuscripts which date back centuries. These are the same koine manuscripts which are the sources of those translations but in what would seem to be an even greater cause for Eichenwald to cheer for is to inform us of Erhman’s flip dismissal of these manuscripts.
“There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament,” says Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, a groundbreaking biblical scholar and professor at the University of North Carolina who has written many books on the New Testament.

What Eichenwald decries as dishonesty and a butchery of word translation is what is arguably debated among translators and linguists as dynamic equivalence. It is a means by which translators intend to provide for the reader, not the literal meaning of the word which would be obscure and lost to the reader, but rather a familiar word which carries the same or approximate meaning in the language of the reader. Of course, there is context which is always vital in the reading of any document. This understanding is absent from Kurt Eichenwald’s explanations even when he cites the manner of koine Greek in these manuscripts as it was written in one continuous, unbroken line without spacing or punctuation. Eichenwald purports to challenge Christians to “attempt to save the Bible from the ignorance, hatred and bias [and] . . . to know it.” This seems disingenuous because he would have readers believe that his article is just simply a presentation of the Bible as a very human work with its “flaws, the contradictions, and the theological disagreements.”
Those words may resonate with some people. Those who have read at least the first three chapters of the Bible may recognize the father of biblical criticism as none other than Satan. It was well before the account of what God had spoken had been written. All three parties present, namely, Satan and Adam and Eve knew what God had said. Yet, the Genesis account records of the serpent that,
he said to the woman, "Indeed , has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"
Thus, a portend of what would become the lofty preoccupation of “modern Bible criticism.” This is the preoccupation of Kurt Eichenwald' parroting with this copy of a copy of a copy of a very familiar set of notions on alleged contradictions and translation differences of no substantive significance  in the Bible.

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